The First Trip from Valdez to Copper Center
When Capt. Abercrombie reached Copper Center via the Valdez Glacier Route in 1898,
he decided to return to Valdez by rafting down the Copper River. He left the expedition's
horses at the Indian village of Taral. On arriving in Valdez in early October, Abercrombie sent guide and packer Pete Cashman with Charles Anderson, Jack Stewart and
Joe Ham to bring the horses back to Valdez.
The men left Valdez on October 18th following Corp. Heiden's trail through Keystone
Canyon to Thompson Pass. It took them many days of hiking up valleys that ended in
glaciers or turned the wrong direction before they found a route over the mountains
and into the Quartz Creek mining district. From here they headed to the Klutina River following
it to Copper Center.
They found the horses and tried to bring them back to Valdez. Cashman knew that winters
snows now made his route impassable and asked the Indians at Taral about driving
the horses out down the Copper River. The Indians indicated this, too, was impossible
and that any route to the coast in late November would be difficult.
Cashman offered to pay the Indians for their services, but they refused saying: "White
man ha-low muck-a-muck. Indian high-you muck-a-muck. One moon high-you cold white
man no muck-a-muck. Indian pot latch high you muck-a-muck. In one moon high you cold,
high-you wind, white man die." Cashman added that the Indians were nearly right.
The first Americans had at last found a glacier-free route from Valdez to Copper Center.
During the winter, news of the route spread through the prospector's camp. As spring
approached, sick and discouraged prospectors began trudging along the route back
to Valdez while prospectors and Capt. Abercrombie's expedition, who had returned to
Valdez or the States for the winter, arrived to expand and push the trail farther
into the interior.
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